Page:Court Royal.djvu/282

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When in Plymouth—at his private money-lending office, at which he was present for some hours in the day, an office without name on the door or window, quite a private lodging, to all appearance—he was well dressed, that is in respectable clothes, without patches, without splits, not discoloured. On his return he dived at once into his bedroom, and re-emerged, the wretchedest of old ragmen. ‘It is in eating, Joanna, that clothes get spoiled. If we were angels, neither eating nor drinking, our clothes would never wear out. With the utmost care we cannot avoid speckling and splashing the cloth.’

‘Where are my house clothes?’ he asked one day, putting his head—only his head—out at the door. ‘I can’t find them anywhere, and I’ve been hunting for them high and low. I’ll catch my death of cold. Have you taken them to darn? Tell me. I am all of a shiver.’

‘I did take them,’ said Joanna; ‘but they are not fit for you to put on.’

‘Oh, for the matter of that, this is home, sweet home, and anything will do there. Joanna, be a dearie, and walk backwards with them, and pass them in at the door whilst I hold it ajar.’

‘I can’t—I’ve sold them.’

‘Sold them!’ cried the Jew. ‘Sold the very skin off my back! Oh, Joanna, I hope you had a good offer for them.’

‘I sold them as old rags, three pounds for a penny. There were not many pounds in them; you had worn them thread-bare.’

‘Oh, Joanna! what am I to do? Where is the money?’

She came towards the door.

‘I have it in my hand.’

He uttered a little scream, and drew in his head and shut the door. ‘Pass it under. Brrr! it is dreadfully raw! What am I to do for clothes?’

She stood outside, and heard him counting the coppers.

‘Very little, wretchedly little,’ he muttered. ‘You might almost as well have thrown the things away.’

‘That would have been against the principles on which I have been reared—never do anything for nothing.’

‘True doctrine,’ said the Jew, ‘I was speaking poetically. I strew flowers sometimes. It is my mind—ornate.’

Presently he called very loud, ‘Joanna! I say, Joanna!’

‘Well,’ she answered, ‘what do you want?’